Words Can Heal


The Roots of Gossip-Part 1

Quote of the Week

It is human nature to take delight in exciting admiration. . . . It is what makes gossips turn out in rain and storm to be the first to tell a startling bit of news.--Mark Twain in The Innocents Abroad

The Allure of Gossip

Why is a juicy tidbit of gossip more delicious than a hot fudge sundae? Why is it more tempting to pass on derogatory information than to break your diet?

The temptation to gossip is rooted in the very human desire to feel important. Gossip feeds the ego in three ways:

1. While the gossiper is speaking, s/he is the center of attention.
2. To possess information which no one else is privy to elevates the gossiper to the coveted status of being "in the know."
3. By putting someone else down, the gossiper assumes a superior status. The implication in slandering another person is that "I would never do/wear/say such a thing."

Gossip is a cheap ego boost which tantalizes people of all ages and both genders. School-age girls, however, for whom prestige and popularity are central, are especially prone to use gossip as a form of social manipulation. Words Can Heal has received many versions of the following letter:

Gossip in Schools

My 12 year old girl is going through harassment at school. She didn't do anything to deserve this. She was in a neighborhood snowball fight, November 2001, and nailed the popular girl. (She didn't mean to hurt anyone... it was a snowball fight for crying out loud.) From thence forward, it has exacerbated into a constant joke on the bus and in school.

All the middle girls in-between are afraid of the popular girl. They have admitted to my daughter that they are afraid of Steph (the so-called popular girl) who is very moody....

My daughter is clinically disabled... She has OCD and an anxiety disorder. BUT she was a straight "A" student prior to this situation.

I am a single Mom who is successful, but very worn out. They have robbed my child of her education and safety and our civil rights. "They" is the child initiating all this gossip and harassment, and her toxic mother and the school system.

My daughter is very depressed, and has a hard time going to school on the bus, and I have to drive her in the morning to school. She freaks out now about going to school and this has escalated her anxiety disorder. She has tried and tried, but the Gossip continues, no matter what she does.

This story is so much longer than I have told you, but I would love to see Gossip Killed and proven to be against the law, honestly! Your foundation should be spread, supported and incorporated as part of our children's educational curriculum and I will do anything to help you if I can.

I am so sick of the abusive torment caused by words.

A Different Kind of Aggression

A recent New York Times Magazine article, "Girls Just Want to be Mean," (Feb. 24) focused on the "relational aggression" prevalent among middle school and high school girls, who use cliques, gossip, and ostracism to promote their own social standing:

A team of researchers led by a Finnish professor named Kaj Bjorkqvist started interviewing 11- and 12-year-old girls about their behavior toward one another. The team's conclusion was that girls were, in fact, just as aggressive as boys, though in a different way. They were not as likely to engage in physical fights, for example, but their superior social intelligence enabled them to wage complicated battles with other girls aimed at damaging relationships or reputations - leaving nasty messages by cellphone or spreading scurrilous rumors by e-mail, making friends with one girl as revenge against another, gossiping about someone just loudly enough to be overheard.

While people often regard gossip as "innocent," it always has a hidden agenda: To boost one’s own social standing by denigrating others.

Next issue: "The Roots of Gossip, Part 2 - What We Can Do About It"

Source: Brought to you by www.verticalresponse.com Visit www.WordsCanHeal.org for more ideas on how to heal with words. And spread the word! Send this message out today -- together we can make a difference!

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